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  • Roleplaying Articles

    Published on 07-24-2016 08:45 AM  Number of Views: 371 

    A mighty and grand fleet looming in space silently may be a mental image that inspires grandeur and awe, but the process of creating one is something that can seem titanic and terrifying. It is an undertaking that is sizable and time consuming, but like most things in life, it can be done if you set your mind to it and create a plan. Science fiction is something that is both interesting to many, and fun to write once you begin to delve into its depths and understand it, be it in nature realistic (known as hard sci-fi) or taking advantage of more fantastical elements (or soft sci-fi). The intention of this article is to go over steps that outline the steps to take to take the seed of your ideas for outer space and allow you assemble your armada piece by piece.

    To this end, this article will be broken into two primary sections: the Navy Building Process and Ship Design. So without further ado, we shall move onto the first topic on our outline: The Navy Building Process.

    The Navy Building Process – Laying the Frame Before the Armor
    Now I’m probably reading your thoughts at this point. ”Why are we making the navy before making the ships that will be in it? How does that work?”

    Making an entire navy is a different task than making a single ship. Though it is science fiction we’re writing about, it pulls from existing concepts today. To use an analogy, if the process of making a ship is making a single piece of a house, the process of making a navy is figuring out what the house is going to look like. To design the navy and what it’s supposed to do before actually designing the ships that are going to be in it, you streamline the process of making the ships that will make it up.

    The first thing to take mind of when designing a space navy is that it encompasses many different kind of ships, which are divided into various classes. They are as follows:

    • Capital Ships
    • Escorts
    • Fighters and/or Drones
    • Special Purpose Vessels

    Capital Ships are typically the larger and largest vessels within a navy, heavily armed and armored, operating in some form of specialized and very important role. They may be tasked with countering enemy capital ships, carrying swarms of fighters or drones to and from engagements, or engaging enemy space stations or planets with titanic amounts of firepower. They are also the preferred choice for command vessels, due to their armored nature. Capital ships represent significant investment, being expensive to build and maintain, and as such are both the most powerful individual vessels your navy will contain, and the most valuable targets your eventual enemies will seek to destroy. Typically, this would include vessels such as battleships, carriers, and heavy cruisers.

    Escorts can range wildly in size, but as the name suggests, one of their roles is to escort capital ships. Within your navy, escort class ships are the workhorse, being able to be used in many of the roles available for tasks within the operational scope of your navy. They may be specialized for particular tasks, for example excelling at countering enemy fighter screens. Escorts can also act independently of the presence of capital ships, operating as task forces for applications that don’t require the specialized attentions of a larger vessel. Vessels typically associated in this class range from smaller corvettes, to the destroyer, a smaller, more compact variation of the battleship.

    Fighters and Drones are typically very small vessels, manned versions usually only crewed by one to three individuals. Where larger vessels typically represent a threat from their individual force, this class of ship normally requires quantity over individual quality, using the minimal resources needed to build them to be made in sufficient numbers to generate a threat. Typically used to screen against enemy fighters and bombers, they can also be armed to provide a harder to detect vector for taking on enemy ships, or for application for tasks requiring smaller vessels, or requiring the precision of close range engagement. Due to their relatively minimal resource investment, they are suited for tasks with low survivability expectations. This class encompasses such vessels as fighters, scout vessels, bombers, and small gunships.

    Special Purpose Vessels are ships with highly specialized applications taken as the focus for their construction. When inside the scope of their operation, these vessels can exceed the effectiveness of any other single vessel within your navy, but outside of those boundaries, their efficiency is greatly reduced, making them something of a double edged sword. For example, a missile carrier excels in engaging many targets over long ranges, due to their large magazines of missiles or torpedoes, but at closer ranges, their specialization for capacity results in less armor and defensive weapons platforms, making them vulnerable to counterattack. This class of ship is both a tactical advantage to your navy and a valuable resource that requires particular tactics and protection.

    Now, with these general classes in mind, you also have to consider the roles your navy is capable of covering, and what kinds of vessels to apply to those roles. Roles are particular types of activity that requires the usage of a fleet, task force, individual vessel, or flight of vessels to accomplish.

    Some examples include:

    • Search and Rescue
    • Planetary Siege
    • Bombing Runs
    • Anti-Capital Ship
    • Electronic Warfare/Countermeasures/Counter-Countermeasures
    • Diplomacy

    And many more.

    By identifying the roles your navy is capable of handling, and identifying the ship classes that would be optimal for covering them, you’ve now laid the groundwork on what kinds of ships you’ll need to make to create your science fiction navy. In essence you’ve done 75% of the work of building your fleet, without previously making a single ship.

    And now that we’ve covered how to design your navy, we can move on to advising you on how to design the actual vessels that will make up the elements of your navy.

    And now, the second portion.

    The Shipyard – Building a Space Boat

    Ships are fun. They fly around, ferrying your characters about, perhaps being involved in some epic chase through an asteroid field, or perhaps sitting in formation engaged in naval combat with your enemies. However, there’s plenty of thought that goes into a ship, and if you’ve taken the time to go through the steps of the former portion of this guide, you have an idea on what kinds of ships you may need. So let’s get into the stabilizers and engines, shall we?

    Step One: What kind of ship are you making?
    This step is the first and easiest. Are you making a mighty dreadnaught, a sleek and swift frigate, or a daring, daredevil fighter for your pilots? This step is essentially a prerequisite for the rest of the guide, so moving on…

    Step Two: Hull and Structure Design
    First, we start with the hull and superstructure, or the skin and bones of your ship. This comes before any additions, as it determines what the inside and outside of your ship will ultimately look like. This relates to what sort of internal capacity the ship will have in regards to crew, essential supplies, and ammunition, as well as the location of critical points within your ship, like the bridge, power plants, hangars, and more.

    Some personal recommendations are to avoid “viewport” bridges, or command centers that feature a window to see out of, and instead to locate the bridge deep inside the vessel itself. This is primarily to negate the potential to have your ship command killed by a single stray shot or missile. In a similar vein, the location of your power plants and electronic centers are better off to be towards the center of the vessel as well, making them more difficult to damage from external sources.

    Step Three: Power Generation and Management
    The next thing to consider is both how is your ship going to get power, and how that power is distributed throughout your ship. Will you have a single generator, or multiple? Are your power lines directly routed to their sources, or does it branch from a bus (a main “highway” with branching lines)? This is also one point to consider redundancy, or secondary, tertiary, or even more methods of allowing power to get where you want it to. By having redundancy, if, for example, an asteroid impacted the hull and damaged the main power lines you’re your engines, you could reroute the power through an alternate line so that you could continue to fly the vessel, and not merely drift without engines.

    Additionally, depending on the output of your generators, you may have to consider how power is typically distributed within your ship, and when it might be necessary to redistribute it. If pirates disable your engines, it would make sense to take the power from the disabled components to provide extra for more relevant ones, like weapons or shielding.

    Step Four: Propulsion
    Of course, you’ll need to be able to drive your new space ship. So you’ll have to decide on some form of sub-light (less than the speed of light) propulsion, be it a reaction drive or reactionless drive. Reaction drives use some form of propellant to get you moving, including things such as chemical rockets and ionic thrusters. Reactionless drives, on the other hand, use no propellant, instead moving your ship through more exotic methods. When deciding between the two, do note that most drives tend to be reaction drives due to technology constraints.

    However, this does not by necessity make reaction drives “inferior”. Remember, a reaction drive powerful enough to be interesting can also serve as an impromptu close range weapon, through the exhaust it generates.

    Additionally, this section does NOT cover Faster-Than-Light (FTL) means of propulsion. That will be covered later in this guide.

    Step Five: Electronics Suite
    We’ll now go over one of the more critical components of a space ship, and that is the electronics suite it uses. This is the ships computers and connected devices, ranging from navigational controls, to sensors, to weapon controls and targeting software, to diagnostic routines, and everything else in between. While it’s not necessary to go over every single detail, it’s good to develop and overview of the more obvious systems, like what kind of sensors your ship mounts, if it uses artificial intelligence (AI), and what kind of control systems it uses.

    While this section may seem obvious, it’s actually pretty important. It may have an impact on how ship-to-ship combat may play out in character, and can make statements about your roleplay navy’s technological levels.

    This section also includes more subtle features, such as electronic methods of stealth, and electronic warfare and electronic counter-warfare.

    Step Six: Ammunition
    Ammunition is integral to most warships, as without it, you aren’t going have much of an offense game. There are many, many kinds of ammunition, from conventional chemical munitions, to solid metal slugs, to missiles, mines, torpedoes, and more. In the case of a warship, you need to decide how much ammo your ship can carry, what kinds it carries, and how its stored.

    Now, some considerations. You typically want enough ammunition to be able to have it for extended combat, but you don’t want so much that it starts taking up space for other critical systems. You may also want to considered armoring your ammunition storage, particularly in the case of reactive ammunition. This is so in the event of a breach, if the ammunition contained inside detonates, it doesn’t cause more damage to the ship than the initial cause of the breach.

    Step Seven: Armor
    Armor is the single most important defense of a warship. Shields may be nice, but shields can more easily fail than armor. Multiple layers of metal, on the other hand, may be bent, burned, and occasionally holes shot through it, but it’s still going to be in the way of incoming fire.

    Now, with that in mind, there are different kinds of armor you could choose to use. Basic kinds of armor are precisely what you’d imagine. A layer of metal designed to deflect or absorb damage that would otherwise go to the hull. Different materials are better at mitigating different type of damage, so it’s recommended to use layers of different armor to offer the best possible protection.

    An alternate kind of armor would be reactive armor, or a barrier that in some way, shape, or form reacts to damage to further mitigate it. More complex than more basic armor, it also offers better protection, but often at the cost of increased maintenance costs.

    Step Eight: Weapons
    So we’ve got the core systems out of the way, and we’ve laid the basis of your defense. Now it’s time to mount your offense. When deciding what kinds of ammunition your ship will be carrying, you probably had an idea on what kinds of weaponry you’ll be considering, but here’s some overview of the different kinds you might choose from.

    Kinetic Energy weaponry (KEW) are weapons that fire some form of solid object with the intent of causing damage through kinetic energy transfer. Examples of this are regular cannons, as well as railguns or coilguns. Propelling a round through either a chemical reaction or magnetic forces, these weapons are simple and easy to use, though accuracy can be an issue at extended ranges due to the slower-than-light velocity they possess.

    Directed Energy weapons (DEW) use some form of energy as a projectile, and typically cause thermal damage, though some varieties do cause damage through kinetic energy transfer. Examples of these include lasers of varying kinds, plasma, and particle beams. These weapons typically have very, very high velocities, making them more accurate over longer ranges, but are often inefficient compared to KEWs, due to energy waste and diffusion over distance.

    Explosive weapons encompass a large bracket of weaponry, ranging from conventional to nuclear. Commonly delivered through missiles, mines, and torpedoes, they can also be sent to their targets via KEW platforms, such as by explosive shells. While their exact potency is often subject to the kind of explosive being used, they are also the most variable and versatile of weapons, capable of being used at nearly any range with very high efficiency, at the expense of cost. This kind of weaponry is more expensive per “shot” than most KEWs and DEWs.

    Beyond the kinds of weapons you can choose, there are different methods of mounting them. Fixed guns are more easily armored to protect them from damage, but suffer the drawback of requiring you to maneuver the entire vessel to properly aim them. Turreted weapons offer the ability aim the weapon individually from the ship itself, but are more often exposed than fixed mounts. Generally, choosing a mix of the two is advisable, with the option of hybridizing the two for semi-turreted weapons that are more limited in their ability to traverse, but better protected than a standalone turret.

    Step Nine: Shielding
    Now that all of the core functions of your ship are in play, you can now look at augmenting its defenses with shielding. Shields come in many forms, but typically offers external deflective protection to your ship. It often can be recharged after failing, but can only handle so much damage before failing, either locally or globally (in other words, over the entire vessel).

    Shielding generally comes from projectors on the surface of the ship, which at the same time as offering your vessel more protection, also offers a prime target for your enemies. So bear this is mind with placement, as well as what measures you might take to protect them, and your ship from further damage if they’re destroyed.

    Step Ten: Congratulations!
    Essentially, your ship is now finished and functional. At this point, you can add on extra features, such as FTL drives, more structural methods of stealth features, hell, a coffee machine on the commander’s chair. You’re free to use this section as many time as you like to help you design various kinds of ships for your space navy.

    In closing, I hope that you’ve found this guide to be helpful in your endeavors to build a space navy. If you’ve further questions or requests for advice, I’m always available to reach through a PM, and you’re more than free to do your own research to find your inspiration!

    Published on 07-08-2016 09:57 AM     Number of Views: 504 

    As a roleplaying forum that encourages and supports creativity and artistic endeavors within all mediums, it is with much pleasure that RPGChat.com presents its first edition of RPGChat Comics to showcase some of our aspiring artists!

    RPGChat Comics - July 2016

    You can vote for your favorite submissions here! The artist with the most votes at the end of the month will have their art thread showcased in the art forum for the following month.

    We hope to see many more submissions in the weeks to come!
    Published on 07-08-2016 10:04 AM  Number of Views: 584 

    Five Common Mistakes that Roleplayers Make

         Roleplayers are just like any other writers; we strive to improve ourselves, day in and day out; constantly wrack our brains for new, exciting materials; and, of course, we make mistakes. This article is about common mistakes that roleplayers make. We've all made them and maybe some of us still are: hopefully this article will give you the nudge you may need to break out of a loop.

    1. Saying 'Yes' when you shoulda said 'No'

         This one I'm sure we've all done. A friend comes to you with a great roleplay idea! They're excited and have it all planned out; they're very eager to get started. Oh! Of course you'll be joining too, right?

         Normally joining a roleplay is never a bad idea. The only time it is, however, is when it's truly an idea that doesn't interest you. If you aren't interested, the best thing you can do for the success of that roleplay is to stay away from it. Anything that you have to force yourself to partake in is generally not going to get your 100%. I rarely give my 100% to things that I am interested in; I can only imagine what I'd give to something that I committed to but didn't really want to do.

         Learning to say no (politely but firmly) is an important skill to have as a roleplayer (and in real life in general, really). I honestly think that it makes you stand out as a collaborative writer when you're willing to put your foot down against something that you feel you won't be able to give your heart to. I respect that ability in people and I'm sure people respect it in me too.

    2. Rushing a Roleplay (especially characters)

         This one goes hand in hand with the above; you're more likely to rush the character creation process if you aren't interested in something.

         However, outside of that, it still happens all the time. This is especially true for Dungeon Masters (or Game Masters). You've spend weeks, sometimes months, working out the details of your campaign. The closer you get to completing it the more thrilled you are to see people walking your world in flesh and blood. You push harder and faster, pumping out content as you go.

         Little do you know, that by pushing yourself harder and faster you are slowly but surely burning yourself out. That's right, you are hurting your creation by pushing yourself. For me this happens around the Character Creation Process. By the time I get around to making the NPCs of my roleplay, I'm tired. Very tired. When this happens, you end up with characters that might have a few good aspects but overall are merely shells of what you could be making out of them.

         I've found that the best method for this is to control yourself. You will get excited and this isn't, by any means, a bad thing. Having a passion for a project is always a good thing. So take a few breaths and, if you are running a User Created Roleplay here on RPGChat, consider delegating some of the work to your moderators!

    3. Is that bird? A Plane? No it's a God-Moder!

         Since the dawn of roleplaying time, back during the days of yahoo roleplaying chatrooms; we have all known them and hated them. They leave a dirty taste in the back of your mouth and make you spit on the ground they walk upon! God Moders.

         What if I told you that chances are high that you've done it too? Worse yet, you've done it and you probably don't even know it. It's the easiest thing to do and you may have had the best of intentions in doing it.

         The Line between God-Moding and Not is generally a thick line and hard to cross. But it's easy to step into that gray threshold in the middle. Have you ever assumed another players reaction to something your character has done? Have you ever had a blow land without your target acknowledging it? Have you ever described your own character as beautiful?

         That last one probably caught your attention! It's true, though. Something as simple as writing, "She walked across the room, her beauty radiant as the firelight danced off of her silky shimmering gown," is, in essence, God-Moding. You've assumed that every character that is looking at your character shares that same descriptor, "Beautiful."

         Now while this doesn't immediately make you a horrible person, it is something that I feel every roleplayer should strive to overcome. Instead of describing your character as beautiful, describe the aspects of your character that you find beautiful. "She walked across the room, her smooth blonde hair fluttering in the smooth heat of the fire (of which danced in her deep, blue eyes)." That sentence to some may describe a beautiful woman, to others it may be unattractive. That in essence is the point: by doing it this way, you have left that decision up to the other roleplayers.

    4. Focusing too much on being unique

         At some point in the middle-ages, something happening in the world of literature. Something amazing and unprecedented. EVERYTHING had been done. EVERYTHING there was to be written about had been written.

         Does this sound true to you? Of course not! It sounds a bit far fetched, but it isn't that far off. Coming up with something unique now a days can be a real struggle and it's a struggle for a really good reason. It's not important.

         Writing isn't about coming up with an idea that no one has ever come up with before. This isn't inventing, at least not in the same sense. If you love Tolkien and you draw inspiration from his work and it inspires you to the point were you begin to add aspects of it to your own adventures: do not despair. Everyone does it. In fact, I am willing to bet this years paycheck that a single book this year hasn't been published that didn't draw in aspects written by another author.

         It's not wrong, by any means. If you're concerned that your writing isn't original, don't worry! Read over what you've written when your roleplay is done. You've sprinkled your own style and your own creativity into it. You've made it unique by the changes and situations that you put it in. Don't despair about not being unique; I want you to rejoice in the fact that you are inspired by what you read.

    5. I'm so stupid, I should have done this instead...

         You are your own worst critic. This reality applies to roleplayers as much as it does to creative writers; I'd say it even applies more. Many writers have the comfort of knowing who they are sharing their writing with and who will read it. When you are roleplaying, you know that the whole site has the potential to read what you've posted. Due to this, you are way more prone to nit-pick your own writing to the point of driving yourself into insanity.

         While criticism is important and having self criticism is positive; having an abundance of self criticism is damaging. It hurts your self esteem and it begins to show in your writing. Rather than your writing flowing and coming off as being you (or your character) it begins to become mechanical. You begin to write by rote, falling into infinite trends and loops. Before you know it, you won't even recognize your writing anymore.

         Over criticizing your own writing can lead to writer's block. We all know that writer's block is a hurtle to get past; why would you continue to do something that has potential to put you in that negative space?

         If you notice that you're being hard on yourself and you're tearing your roleplay apart trying to get it perfect, consider just giving in and letting someone else read it and criticize it. The chances are very high that you were being hard on yourself. They'll give you a list of what they'd change about it and what they wouldn't, and you roll on. It gives you a good base-line to work off of while still giving your writing that little hint of special that makes it yours.

         I hope this article has helped some of you improve your writing. If it has, I'm happy for you and very excited to read your writing here on RPGChat! I feel like we can all improve as writers and roleplayers and every little bit helps us. We all have something to teach everyone else and the best way to do it is through example.

         Thanks for reading and happy roleplaying!

    Published on 04-25-2015 02:26 AM

    Hey pretty people! It has been a long time coming, but RPGC is now live on Tapatalk! (I am currently posting this from Tapatalk on my iPad! Yay!) I am new to Tapatalk myself, but just poke around the app for a bit and I am sure you will get the hang of it! You can download the Tapatalk app for mobile phones and tablets for free. Just search RPGChat and you should be able to find us! Please post in the Helpdesk subforum if you have any questions (:
    by Published on 08-03-2016 07:27 PM

    RPGChat has hit its $700 goal and we are up and running!!! Thank you VERY much to all our incredible supporters. We love and value you guys and we thank you for showing how much you care!

    We will be making the move over these next few weeks, but now the site can stay online as we move! NO content will be lost, so rest assured.

    We have some exciting new plans ahead so please stay tuned!